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The Arsenio Hall Show: Wikis


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The Arsenio Hall Show
Format Talk/Variety show
Created by Arsenio Hall
Marla Kell Brown
Presented by Arsenio Hall
Narrated by Burton Richardson
Composer(s) Michael Wolff
(musical director)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 1,248
Running time 45 min
Original channel Syndication
Original run January 3, 1989 – May 27, 1994

The Arsenio Hall Show is an American variety/talk show that aired late weeknights in syndication and aired from January 3, 1989 to May 27, 1994. The show was created and hosted by comedian/actor Arsenio Hall.



Hall had been a host on The Late Show, another talk show on Fox, after the dismissal of Joan Rivers. He was given a 13-week run, during which he became unexpectedly popular. During the monologue of his final appearance as host, Hall stated that the reason he had agreed to only do 13 weeks was because that was as long as he was able to stay, as he had plans "to do other things."[1] He subsequently began working on the Eddie Murphy vehicle Coming to America. He ultimately signed with Paramount Television before Fox finally decided, too late, that they wanted to keep him.

Recurrent gags

One of the show's recurrent gags was affixing a humorous label to a specific section of the audience at stage left of the band, called the "dogpound."[2] The labeling was a staple of Hall's opening monologue and almost always began with the phrase "People who..." In one variation of the gag, Hall designated this section as "People who are currently in a Witness Protection Plan," at which point the camera panned over to that section to reveal a digitally pixillated view of the audience that made it impossible to identify them.

Although not an actual "gag," Burton Richardson's long intro of the show's host (in which he would hold the "O" in "Arsenio" for as long as ten seconds right before Hall came out onto the stage, then finally announce "HALL!" all in the same breath) became a staple of the show. In the intro to the final episode, Richardson held out his one-breath introduction for exactly twenty seconds, one of the few times he had done so.

A frequent gag in Hall's opening monologue suggested that he still lived in Cleveland, and drove himself to Los Angeles every day to host the show. While on these alleged long drives, Hall would ponder certain thoughts, referring to them as "things that make you go hmmm..." This running gag inspired a 1990 C+C Music Factory song by that very title. "Things That Make You Go Hmmm..." reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


Hall's show was aimed at the younger urban audience, with Eddie Murphy (a personal friend of Hall's) and other performers often featured. The show quickly appealed to young people of all races and began to attract a wide variety of guests. It became the show for entertainers to go to in order to reach the "MTV Generation."

The show was known for the audience's chant of "Woof! Woof! Woof!" while pumping their fists in a circular motion. Some say this was appropriated from the fan chants at Cleveland Browns games, and others say that it came from the chant of Black Greek Letter Organization Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. In any case, it quickly became associated with Hall's show.

Hall would often have friend MC Hammer as an interview and musical guest. He also interviewed "Jason Voorhees", the main character from the popular Friday the 13th series of films around the time of the release of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.[3]

Bill Clinton

Then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton was a guest on the show in June 1992, playing "Heartbreak Hotel" on the saxophone (causing Arsenio to quip, "It's nice to see a Democrat blow something besides the election"). The appearance is often considered an important moment in Clinton's political career, helping build his popularity among minority and young voters; Clinton went on to win the election in November 1992.[4]

Controversial moments

  • Hall introduced De La Soul as "the hippies of hip-hop," who then performed their hit single "Me, Myself, and I," which explicitly states that they are not, in fact, hippies. The credits for the show also began to run over their performance before they were finished, further contributing to the perceived "diss." Soon after, De La Soul recorded the song "Pass the Plugs," in which they responded to the incident with the lyrics, "Arsenio dissed us but the crowd kept clapping."
  • During a May 1991 taping, Hall lost his composure when three or four members of the gay-activist faction Queer Nation that were seated in the back rows—apparently offended because Hall's producers failed to book Gus Van Sant to promote his gay-themed film My Own Private Idaho— interrupted Hall's opening monologue by shouting questions as to why he never had any "gay" guests on his show. The heated exchange[5] went on for several minutes, with Hall defending his position as host and arguing that he'd had plenty of gay people as guests.
  • Hall claimed that his decision to have Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as a guest in February 1994 turned affiliates, advertisers and some viewers off the show, ultimately leading to the show's cancellation three months later. Paramount's position was that ratings had dramatically fallen, causing a sharp decline in advertising revenue, which led to their decision to cancel. Opposing rationalizations for the show's demise were disputed extensively by those on both sides of the issue, and the accompanying media speculation was rampant. However, it must be noted that the series appeared in many cities on CBS affiliates, which began airing the new Late Show with David Letterman in 1993, thus crowding Hall's program out of its post-evening-news slot in some markets.
  • Hall showed a rare moment of anger when he aggressively attacked Vanilla Ice during a broadcast in which the latter was the musical guest. Vanilla Ice was brand new and popular among young people, and had criticized Hall's friend MC Hammer in the press.

Awards and nominations

Emmy Awards

  • 1993: "Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series", for episode "The 1000th show" — won
  • 1990: "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or a Special" — won
  • 1990: "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series" — nominated
  • 1989: "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or a Special" — nominated
  • 1989: "Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series" — nominated
  • 1989: "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program" — nominated

NAACP Image Awards

  • 1995: "Outstanding Variety Series" — won
  • 1993: "Outstanding Variety Series/Special" — won

See also


External links

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